A Museum Blossoming in the Time of Coronavirus

Exhibition Review

Florals for fall?

by Sara Blad | 03 November 2020


Florals for fall? The Frans Hals Museum’s annual Museum in Bloom exhibition (24th October 2020 – 6th December 2020) eschewed its typical florals for spring this year, but not by choice. The coronavirus closed the museum in March and thwarted the annual spring themed exhibition. But the annual exhibition has reappeared in a fall iteration, and the schedule change presents a good opportunity to consider the link between the Frans Hals Museum and its annual Museum in Bloom exhibition. ​ The Spring exhibition usually honors the important role of flowers in the Netherlands’ national identity, but what do they have to do with Frans Hals, the museum’s namesake? Hals was a seventeenth-century Dutch portraitist known for his dynamically unblended brushwork which imbues his portrait sitters with a lively appearance. Floral still life painting was a typically Dutch genre throughout Hals’ lifetime, and though the museum cheekily asserts that ‘Hals likes his flowers so much’, there is no evidence that Hals painted any despite having lived in Haarlem, the Netherlands’ flower capital. A flower does figure famously in Hals’ portrait of Isabella Coymans as she holds a rose out to her husband, Stephanus Geraerdts. The ghost of Isabella and her rose linger in the outstretched hand of her husband reaching out for the rose, despite the fact that she is separated from her husband who reigns over the Frans Hals Museum while she resides in a private collection.